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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, May 21st 2010

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: David Corn, Taylor Kirschenfeld, Dan Gross

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you

be talking about tomorrow?

Hurry.  Enjoy Rand Paul while you still can.  The Republican nominee

for Senate from Kentucky talks oil spill disaster and defends B.P.



someone‘s fault, and instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents



OLBERMANN:  And Dr. Paul knows who the real villain in this is—the



PAUL:  What I don‘t like from the president‘s administration is this

sort of, you know, I‘ll put my boot heel on the throat of B.P.  I think

that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.


OLBERMANN:  Better heel on your throat than your head up your—

assessing the candidate‘s chance of remaining the candidate with Richard


Assessing Senator Bunning‘s insistence the Republicans must embrace

Rand Paul and the tea party with David Corn.

Why B.P. lied about how much oil is being spilled.  To create doubt,

because juries decide damages in oil spills based on how much oil is being

spilled.  And those, quote, “dispersants,” unquote?



dissolve this oil with dispersants.  It‘s just to get it away from the

cameras on the shoreline.


OLBERMANN:  P.R. stunt in the Senate as well?  Financial reform—is

this claim true?


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  Never again will you be

asked to bail out those big banks when they place risky bets.


OLBERMANN:  “Worsts”:  Senator Reid‘s would-be Republican opponent is

back and lying again.  Sue “Chicken Lady” Lowden proudly reveals her

$100,000 campaign bus was a gift from a donor.  But the legal limit on

donations is $5,000 -- so then she claims it‘s been leased, except her name

is on the title.

And “Friday‘s with Thurber.”  Three fables for our time, including

“The Owl Who was God.”

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.



OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Seventy-two hours now since a tea party-backed eye surgeon won the

Republican nomination for the Kentucky Senate seat.  And not only has he

come out in favor of allowing private businesses to discriminate based on

skin color, not only has it been revealed that he opposes both the Fair

Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, this morning, in our fifth

story on the COUNTDOWN: Rand Paul calling any pressure that the Obama

administration is putting on oil behemoth B.P., quote, “un-American”—

summarizing the unfolding, unmitigated ecological disaster B.P. has created

in three words: “Sometimes accidents happen.”

Dr. Paul continuing to discover that the ideological purity of his

abstract principles are no match for the real world, complaining to George

Stephanopoulos on ABC this morning that the real world is not giving him

his due.


PAUL:  When does my honeymoon period start?  I had a big victory.  I

thought I got a honeymoon period from you guys in the media.


OLBERMANN:  This is your honeymoon period.

Dr. Paul‘s desired political honeymoon over before ever having started

because the good doctor without the good sense to keep to himself the

extremist ideas held by many small government conservatives, as when Dr.

Paul told the FOX going out of business channel earlier this year that he

believes federal agencies should reduce their regulation of the energy

industry which brings us back to this morning and Paul‘s views on the oil

spill.  Roll it.


PAUL:  The thing is, is that, you know, the drilling right now and the

problem we‘re having now is in international waters.  And I think there

needs to be regulation of that, and always has been.  I think there are

hundreds of pages of regulation.

What I don‘t like from the president‘s administration is this sort of,

you know, I‘ll put my boot heel on the throat of B.P.  I think that sounds

really un-American in his criticism of business.  I‘ve heard nothing from

B.P. about not paying for the spill.

And I think it‘s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense

that it‘s always got to be someone‘s fault.  And instead of the fact that

maybe sometimes accidents happen, I mean, we had a mining accident that was

very tragic and I‘ve met a lot of these miners and their families.  They‘re

very brave people to do a dangerous job.

But then we come in and it‘s always someone‘s fault.  Maybe sometimes

accidents happen.


OLBERMANN:  B.P. is doing everything it can to not pay for that spill,

and those are not international waters.

Sometimes accidents happen, he said it twice.  Dr. Paul also failing

to give a straight answer as to whether he stuck by the views he expressed

in that remarkable 2002 letter to the editor that he wrote, attacking the

Fair Housing Act, as well as ducking a question about whether the federal

government should be allowed to set a minimum wage.


PAUL:  But it‘s not a question of whether they can or cannot, I think

that‘s decided.  I think the question you have to ask is whether or not

when you set the minimum wage, it may cause unemployment.


OLBERMANN:  Tonight, apparent proof that the Paul campaign now

realizing the candidate is not ready for prime time, pulling the full

Palin, by backing out of an interview scheduled for Sunday on “Meet the

Press,” only the third time a major guest has canceled on the show in 62

years.  Executive producer Betsy Fischer saying the reason cited was


A Paul campaign spokesman giving a different reason to Dave Weigel of

“The Washington post,” quote, “Rand did ‘Good Morning America‘ today, set

the record straight, and now, we‘re done talking about it.  No more

national interviews on the topic.”

Lots to talk about tonight with our own political analyst, Richard

Wolffe, author of “Renegade.”

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  If the spokesman is right and doctor set the record

straight this morning, what precisely did he set straight for all of us?

WOLFFE:  Oh, he set a lot straight.  You know, as they like to say at

B.P., this well is not yet dry.

And the problem here is not the media or it‘s not the format, it‘s not

the network, it‘s the man.  It‘s the man on the microphone.  You put the

two together and stuff just tumbles out like—I don‘t know, oil from the

bottom of the sea.

Here‘s the issue: if he tries to back away from his positions, as he‘s

done, he‘s shown he can learn how to play dodgeball, but he has to be like

any other old politician.  He has to twist the questions about civil rights

into repealing civil rights or about Senator Robert Byrd or about the

president.  His fundamental position hasn‘t changed.  This man‘s problem is

that his ideology trumps his morality, if he has some.

So, you know, you put the microphone there, it‘s going to happen. 

It‘s wonderful.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  So, we have this—if in the Gulf we‘re

getting the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez every three days.  With the

microphone here, we‘re getting the equivalent of Sarah Palin every three


But, now, to dismiss that with this phrase, “sometimes accidents

happen,” as well as criticizing the administration‘s response as un-

American—is this, in fact, is Rand Paul representative of what “drill,

baby, drill” looks like once you actually turn it into a discussion of


WOLFFE:  You know, the first off, I love the echo of Donald Rumsfeld

here.  I mean, stuff happens, you know?  Iraq blows up and, you know,

drills just go wrong and it spreads oil everywhere.

This isn‘t actually really just about “drill, baby, drill.”  It‘s not

about energy policy.  There‘s something much bigger going on, the debate

he, Rand Paul, the tea party movement, and folks on this part of the

Republican Party want to have is about business first as government.  The

problem they have is that their party massively skews towards trusting

business over government and the rest of the population sees it the other

way around.  Especially after Wall Street‘s collapse, especially after what

we‘re seeing with B.P.

His point of view would leave B.P. unfettered and businesses to

discriminate on the base of race and Wall Street to do what the hell it

likes.  That is one point of view.  It doesn‘t actually respect small

companies in the Gulf, the fishing industry, the tourism industry.  It‘s an

extreme thing way out of the mainstream.

OLBERMANN:  There are unknowns about Rand Paul that we know and there

are unknowns about Rand Paul that we don‘t know.  Well, how about this one? 

But the cancellation of “Meet the Press” is it likely we‘re not going to

hear from Dr. Paul again for a very long time?

WOLFFE:  Oh, you know, they‘re saying they‘re just going to do

Kentucky media and Kentucky issues.  The problem is he‘s running for the

United States Senate.  Any reporter—and Kentucky‘s going to be flooded

with reporters—any reporter down there or anyone, any voter asking him a

question about national politics will be there with a recorder, with a

camera.  He cannot avoid the questions or the attention anymore.

OLBERMANN:  Are any of the national Republican organizations

discussing at this point cutting bait with this guy before he does

something else?  Because, you know, as you suggest, he‘ll do something else

and somebody will record it.

WOLFFE:  Well, this is the where this story goes from here.  People

who have expressed support for him in the past are going to get pushed

harder and harder.  Do they still stand with him?  Does Sarah Palin approve

of what he thinks of the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act?  You know,

is Mitch McConnell going to do anything but have his spokesperson put out a


That‘s where this goes from here.  So far, they‘re all either staying

quiet or being respectful, because remember, this is a movement that

threatens them all.

OLBERMANN:  MSNBC analyst, Richard Wolffe, the author of “Renegade”—

as always, great pleasure.  Have a great weekend.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Mixed response from Republicans in the wake of the Rand

Paul truth telling.  With most all but sticking their fingers in their ears

as Richard suggested and saying, na, na, na.

Sister Sarah, where‘s she now pray tell?  Wednesday night before the

Maddow interview, half governor of Alaska having said of Dr. Paul, quote,

“That libertarian streak of his, that is what we need to balance out the

leftist liberal overreach of government that‘s in power right now.”

Meanwhile, the man Dr. Paul hopes to replace in the Senator, pitcher-

turned-something other than that, Senator Jim Bunning, saying Thursday that

Paul‘s views should be the views of the GOP.  Republican leadership is

apparently wishing however that Dr. Paul would just shut up.

Jon Kyl of Arizona, the number two Republican in the Senate, telling

“The New York Times” something rather telling.  Quote, “I hope he can

separate the theoretical and the interesting and the hypothetical questions

that college students debate until 2:00 a.m. from the actual votes we have

to cast based on real legislation here.”

On that note, let‘s turn now to David Corn, Washington bureau chief

for “Mother Jones” magazine, as well as columnist for

David, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Is this a bit of the emperor with no clothes thing going

on here with Rand Paul?  I mean, might he merely be expressing views that

many small government conservatives hold but usually keep to themselves in

order to, you know, get elected without anybody knowing they‘re this far

off the whack off sort of path there?

CORN:  Well, I think what he needs is a blowout preventer, one that


My theory here is that Rand Paul, like a lot of us, learned a lot from

our parents, whether we wanted to or not.  If you look at his dad, Ron

Paul, what characterizes him, what makes him almost charming is that he

says what he thinks.  Now, that works when you come from a conservative,

quirky, libertarian district in Texas, and it got him a national following,

but not too many votes in the Republican primaries last time around.

So, Rand Paul has gotten to where he is as a Senate, you know, primary

winner by kind of acting the way his dad does.  But that‘s not going to

work in Kentucky.  It‘s not going to work on the national stage.  So, he is

telling us what he thinks.  But now, as Richard noted, he‘s turning into

the regular old politician and trying to dodge the consequences of his own


OLBERMANN:  Are you confident it‘s not going to work in Kentucky? 

Because Howard Fineman who worked there said that unfortunately, due to the

low levels of minority interest in that state, this might be exactly what a

lot of Kentuckians want to hear.

CORN:  Well, I think he has a fighting chance.  I mean, we have five

more months—maybe he‘ll stay away from the microphones for all that


But Jack Conway, who won the Democratic primary, is a very strong

candidate.  You know, the Republicans have a leg up in Kentucky, but the

Democrats have won that seat in the past, and they have—I think they

have a good chance if Rand Paul continues to behave any way like he has the

past four days.

OLBERMANN:  Tomorrow, the Republicans are to gather in Kentucky for

the—for an essential group hug, less than a literal, a figurative one,

to rally around Rand Paul at a unity breakfast in Lexington, Kentucky.

I mean, what are we going to—what is that going to look like?  Or

is Dr. Paul going to sleep through it because of this exhaustion and he‘s

already done enough and he‘s tired?

CORN:  Talk about shotgun weddings.  I hope there‘s a lot of moonshine

to go around.

I mean, this, you know, at the beginning of the week, I thought it was

a bad week for Mitch McConnell.  But now I think he‘s one of the smartest

guys on the Republican Party side.  He saw what would happen with Rand Paul

and did his best to try to keep him from getting the Senate nomination.

And now, as we‘ve seen in the last 24 hours, he‘s not rushing to

embrace this guy.  I mean, this is like hugging a live grenade.  No one‘s

going to know when Rand Paul is going to explode, and I don‘t think they

want to get too close to him.

All have you to do is look at some of the conspiracy talk shows he‘s

been on, and how he kind of is very sympathetic to this conspiracy notion

of the new world order taking and international cabals, you know, taking

over the Republican and Democratic Party.  So there‘s—you know, he‘s

radioactive.  He‘s red hot.

So, I think it‘s going to be very difficult for Republicans, even

Sister Sarah to get too close to him in the next couple of days or next few


OLBERMANN:  The real threat is from the America Ophthalmological


CORN:  Yes.  What are they going to do?


OLBERMANN:  Last thing, he‘s complaining that he‘s been trashed up and

down by Democratic talking points.  But what Jon Kyl said was this kind of

funny, kind of—oh, that‘s hope he can separate the theoretical and the

interesting and the hypothetical questions that college students debate

until 2:00 a.m. from the actual votes we have to cast based on real

legislation here.

Is that—is that the loudest shout across the bow that a prominent

Republican can take right now?  Or is it a warning to him?  Or what is it?

CORN:  Oh, it‘s pretty darn condescending.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, that‘s true, too.

CORN:  Listen, Mr. Paul, we do real business here.  We don‘t want your

silly libertarian fantasies.  Go rent “The Matrix” if that‘s what you‘re

interested in.

So—I mean, but it is a shot across the bow for him, and I think

Republicans are going to stand back and wait and see, you know, how he‘ll

do this weekend by not going on “Meet the Press” and whether he can get any

momentum back.  But every chance he‘s had this week to impress people, he‘s

done the opposite.

And I think that B.P. remark is, you know—how can he get through

the campaign without further explaining that, and I think unfortunately,

you know, you pegged it earlier.  This is what he believes.  It‘s—these

aren‘t gaffes, these aren‘t slips of the tongue, this is what he truly

believes.  And do Kentuckians want to vote for someone when there‘s an

ecological disaster, he goes, “Whoops, let‘s not blame the company”?

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  In essence, he endorsed an oil spill.


OLBERMANN:  David Corn of “Mother Jones”—great thanks.  Have a good


CORN:  You, too, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Rand Paul may have canceled on “Meet the Press,” but the

nominee who is still likely to be on the ballot when Kentucky actually

votes in November will be with us.  Monday night on COUNTDOWN, the

Democratic choice for senator in that state, Jack Conway, reacts to

whatever Dr. Paul says tomorrow or Sunday or in his sleep.

As to what Dr. Paul calls the Gulf accident, why does the amount of

oil spilling per day keep changing?  That‘s because juries decide damages

based on how much oil is spilling per day.  First the disaster, then the

swindle—when COUNTDOWN continues.


OLBERMANN:  The B.P. oil spill might merit description as an accident,

the legal reasons though why B.P.‘s continuing changing of the amount of

oil being spilled is not an accident.

His promise: never again will you be asked to bail out those big banks

when they place those risky bets.  Is that true or just hype?

“Friday‘s with James Thurber”: three of the fables for our time,

including the cautionary tale, “The Owl Who was God.”

And Justin Bieber.  Oh, there‘s more to that.  Justin Bieber runs head

first into a glass door.  The inanimate object is undamaged and so is the

door.  The video of the assault on mankind‘s last best hope—ahead on



OLBERMANN:  From the beginning, we were told by British Petroleum and

the American government that giving—accurate estimate rather of the

amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico did not matter because they

were responding with everything they had anyway.

In our fourth story tonight—we were lied to.  B.P. knew determining

the amount quickly was critical, but the company had a financial incentive

to prevent anyone from learning what it was.  We were also told that

dispersants, both under sea and from the air, are the best way to deal with

the oil to prevent it from reaching shore, but environmental advocates

testified today that dispersants which are themselves considered toxic,

make it more difficult to remove the oil from the water, not less.



would want it as thick and as concentrated as possible to deal with it

right there.  Instead of circling it with numerous booms that are made for

ocean wave conditions, we seem to be saying we‘re going to take this

concentrated oil, we‘re going to dissolve it, so we have no ability to

touch it or deal with it.  For the most part, we won‘t see it.  It‘s an

out-of-sight, out-of-mind strategy only.

It‘s a P.R. stunt to dissolve this oil with dispersants.  It‘s just to

get it away from the cameras on the shoreline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But yet something even more dangerous might be

taking place under the ocean?

SAFINA:  Absolutely.


OLBERMANN:  Dispersants also make measuring the spill more difficult. 

“McClatchy Newspapers” reports B.P. has financial incentives to do just

that.  After weeks of B.P. and the government telling us the amount did not

matter, “McClatchy” quotes B.P.‘s own internal oil spill response plan

which says, quote, “The following actions are critical to initiating and

sustaining an effective response: locate the spill, determine size and

volume of the spill.”

Quote, “In the event of a significant release of oil, an accurate

estimation of the spill‘s total volume along with the spill location and

movement is essential in providing preliminary data to plan and initiate

cleanup operations.  Generating the estimation as soon as possible will aid

in determining: equipment and personal required, potential threat to

shorelines and/or sensitive areas.”

“The priority issue will be to estimate and report the volume and

measurements of the spill as soon as possible.”

B.P., one month and one day later, is still preventing anyone from

measuring the oil at the source.

According to “McClatchy,” B.P. has a massive financial incentive to

figuratively muddy the waters, about how much oil is in the water because

juries base damage awards on the amount of oil released just as they did

against Exxon after the Valdez spill.  This coming as B.P. suddenly reduced

by half yesterday‘s estimate of how much oil it was sucking up through the

siphon, after admitting that its previous estimate of 5,000 barrels a day

would mean the total spill itself had to be more than that.

And as “The New York Times” reports, the volunteer who offered to

treat birds and collect data on the spill were told the work can only be

done by contractors for B.P.—which again has a financial incentive,

fines and penalties to lowball the volume numbers.

And the U.S. government ordered local officials to send all their

samples for testing—the results of which might also be used against B.P.

to an oil and gas services company that includes among its biggest

clients: B.P.


Joining us now, a key source for that “New York Times” report, Taylor

Kirschenfeld, senior water quality scientist and division manager for

Escambia County, Florida‘s Water Quality and Land Management Division.

Thank you kindly for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN:  All right.  You were—you told “The Times” that you

refused instructions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration to send water samples to this TDI-Brooks International

Company for testing.  Can you explain why you did that?

KIRSCHENFELD:  In Escambia County, the sampling that we were doing,

the pre-impact analysis, this was the base line sampling, collecting water

data, also data for sediment and oyster tissue, we wanted to make sure, as

scientists, that we were doing the best that we could for the citizens of

Escambia County.  And that includes making sure that the samples are sent

to a laboratory that doesn‘t have any perception of any kind of conflict of


And we felt like the laboratory in Texas just had too close of ties

with the oil industry and B.P.  So, instead of sending our samples there,

we sent them to a laboratory in Pensacola, Florida.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Kirschenfeld, you also told “The Times” that federal

officials are telling the volunteer that only the companies hired by B.P.

are allowed to collect the data about the wildlife that‘s been affected by

the oil coming in from this disaster.

Which officials are saying this and what‘s the rationale behind what

they‘re saying?

KIRSCHENFELD:  The officials at the unified command in Mobile,

Alabama, are telling local volunteers and local wildlife sanctuaries,

people that are trained in the care of animals, they‘re telling them to

keep their hands off and they‘re telling them to back up and not touch

those oiled sea turtles, marine mammals or birds.  Instead, they have their

own contractor that will take care of these animals and also their own

contractor will be revealing those numbers of oiled and dead wildlife.

OLBERMANN:  But surely, this all has added up in your mind and I guess

in the mind of others to being more—B.P. being more interested in

containing the information and what‘s actually happening and the numbers on

which penalties and/or legal fees will be based, more interested in

containing that information than they are in containing the actual oil

spill.  Do you think that‘s correct?

KIRSCHENFELD:  Well, that‘s certainly a concern, Keith.  You know, for

all we know, this laboratory in Texas is the best laboratory in the world. 

It may be.

But there is that cloud of doubt.  There is that perception that there

just may be this conflict of interest.  And as scientists, we did not want

to even have to answer those questions from the public as to whether the

data that we‘re giving them is valid and unbiased or not.  We just want to

avoid all those questions, and we know the way to do that was to send it to

the laboratory that we‘ve dealt with for many years.

OLBERMANN:  What‘s your position—we hear this testimony questioning

the use of dispersants—what‘s your position on the use of these


KIRSCHENFELD:  Some of those dispersants, as we‘ve seen, are very

toxic.  They contain very toxic chemicals.  And I was very glad yesterday

to see that the U.S. EPA finally ordered B.P. and their contractors to use

less toxic dispersant and I believe they gave them until Sunday to do that.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, we heard this Senatorial nominee from the

Republican Party in Kentucky, Dr. Paul, say that these things just happen,

sometimes accidents just happen.  What‘s your reaction to that, seeing that

accident firsthand?

KIRSCHENFELD:  Accidents do happen.  We all know that.

But also, as scientists, we need to be prepared for anything that does

happen.  We need to be able to deal with that.

You know, I was talking to some citizens there in Pensacola yesterday. 

The analogy is, it‘s like driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour

knowing your brakes don‘t work.  You know, there‘s no backup plan.  There‘s

no plan B.

And it seems like B.P. did not have that contingency plan in place

that they needed to have.

OLBERMANN:  Now, I‘ll go you one further on an apt analogy, I‘d say

it‘s going down 80 miles an hour and there are no brakes.

Taylor Kirschenfeld, the environmental official working for Escambia

County, Florida—great thanks for your insight and your time, sir.

KIRSCHENFELD:  You‘re welcome, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.

“The Mouse Who Went to the Country,” by James Thurber.

First, the mouse who went to the White House, by Robert Gibbs.


OLBERMANN:  The promise that we‘ll never have to bail out a bank

again, is that the truth about the financial reform bill or just an

exaggeration?  First, reminding you the Twerst persons will be Tweeted

about 20 minutes, it‘s the Tweet of the day from Robert Landrum, “I think I

just saw a new Twitter account called SpitRandPaulSays.”  It‘d be a lot

funnier if it would prove not to be true within 24 hours. 

Lets play Oddball.

We begin in the White House Rose Garden, where yesterday, as the press

awaited the president‘s speech on Wall Street fat cats, some type of

woodland creature wanted to rub it in.  During his speech, the little guy

scurried by again.  The president kept on going.  Vice President Palin

would have had that terrorist gone with one shot, you hippy.  After a

thorough investigation, the White House issued this statement. 



animal, based on the diameter of the seal, I‘ve got to tell you, that‘s a



OLBERMANN:  But apparently it isn‘t a rat.  It isn‘t a rat.  It‘s most

likely just a vole, a rodent with a stout body, or it‘s a member of the

Salahi family. 

Frankfurt, Germany, Gutentach (ph), checking in with 16-year-old pop

sensation Justin Bieber  -- I‘ve heard Mr. Bieber is a hit with the kids,

but, anyhow, it looks like he‘s in a little trouble checking out of the

Radisson here.  OMG, are you OK?  That‘s glass there, pal.  The hair helmet

can‘t protect you all the time.  The door was diagnosed with a case of

Bieber fever.  Fortunately for America, the injured Bieber still makes more

sense than Rand Paul.  He‘s all right. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yo, what up.  I just walked into that door.  I

don‘t know if you‘ve seen it.  But my forehead hurts.  I thought—what

happened was I pushed and I thought it opened, but obviously it didn‘t. 

And I walked right into the window.  Peace. 


OLBERMANN:  And peace be with you, too, Justin.  Sorry. 

To Brecht, in Belgium.  The town is undergoing some renovations there. 

Item one, move the 100-year-old statue of the great Flemish Jurist

Gabrielle Ledais (ph).  Time to call in the professionals.  Look, they‘ve

got a crane.  Let‘s watch the workers care—oh.  Oh, dear.  His head came

right off.  Judge Ledais, Judge Ledais, Judge Ledais. 

Worst persons, wherein John Stossel agrees with Rand Paul.  Is he

bailing out on “Meet the Press” too?  Ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  The new financial regulation bill, passed by the Senate

yesterday, is not of course the final act.  The Senate and House versions

of the bill must be merged now, giving Wall Street one last shot at

lobbying hard to water it down.  In our third story tonight, once the bill

becomes law, will Democrats be able to sell it to a restive public as the

big accomplishment they think it is? 

Today, Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of

their respective finance committees, met with the president.  Congressman

Frank predicted that the two bills could be merged within one month. 


REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  I can‘t remember ever seeing

two major pieces of legislation, really historic pieces of legislation,

come out of the two houses so close.  That‘s not accidental.  I would thank

the Republicans who voted for the bill in the House, if there were any. 

And I would hold out to them the prospect of being thanked if any of them

decide to break party discipline. 


OLBERMANN:  Congressman Frank had, on March 31st, on this news hour,

called for a formal public conference once the legislation passed the

Senate.  Mr. Frank made a similar statement on CNBC.  And House Minority

Leader John Boehner has evidently accepted the challenge, sending a letter

to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to support an open, bipartisan,

House/Senate conference on the bill, with C-Span covering.  Quoting, “in

short, we need to ensure that the process going forward does not turn our

mutual interest in regulating Wall Street into a bill with unintended

consequences, root causes left unaddressed or the federal government‘s

unwanted hand reaching in to Main Street.” 

This from the leader of the House Republicans, none of whom voted for

the House version of the bill.  In other words, let the games begin.  It‘s

not too late for the GOP to portray this bill as another government

takeover.  But last night, Senate Majority Leader Reid heralded the bill as

just the opposite. 


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  It‘s a choice between

learning from the mistakes of the past or just letting them happen again. 

We can‘t let things like that happen again.  What took place brought down

this country economically.  We can‘t stand by and let it happen again.  For

those who wanted to protect Wall Street, it didn‘t work.  They can no

longer gamble away other people‘s money. 


OLBERMANN:  To analyze this reality versus what is being spun, the

senior editor of “Newsweek,” Dan Gross, joins us.  Dan, thanks for your

time tonight. 

DAN GROSS, “NEWSWEEK”:  Good to be here. 

OLBERMANN:  Some of the politics of this in a moment.  But one thing

in particular is was there an over-promise in there?  At one point, Harry

Reid insisted that Main Street will never again be asked to bail out the

big banks.  Is that correct? 

GROSS:  Well, Keith, I have no doubt that 30 years from now, if you

and I are alive and well, God willing, and we are communicating with the

Skypee that is implanted in our brain stem, we will be discussing some

other financial debacle that will require some form of government

intervention.  One of the things that Wall Street is ingenious at is coming

up with new ways to screw things up in such a large degree that they need

federal help. 

It may not be for another ten, 20, 30, 40 years, but to say that this

categorically rules out the possibility of any type of bailout ever again I

think probably is over-promising. 

OLBERMANN:  Our second topic in that conversation 30 years hence will

be when that oil spill stops in the Gulf. 

GROSS:  Or what we had for the early bird dinner. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there anything else lacking, in your view, that could

make this thing stronger and more relevant, meatier, if you will? 

GROSS:  Sure.  Aside from the tar and feathers and the stockades,

which were removed from the Senate bill at the last minute, the Volcker

rule—this was Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman‘s idea

that banks that are getting money from the Federal Reserve and that have

insured deposits should not be allowed to take that money and sort of

gamble it on proprietary trading.  That is not in the Senate bill per se. 

In addition, the House had this large fund.  They were going to assess

banks in advance to establish a fund that would help pay for things like

the rescues we had.  That also is not in the Senate bill.  I think this

notion—it‘s not simply punitive.  It‘s basically saying to the banks, if

you want to be big and you want to be risky, we‘re going to require you to

sort of purchase some insurance on the event that one of you will screw it

up big time. 

OLBERMANN:  The conference, the idea that the merger of the two bills

would be televised live, would that decrease the chance that the bank

lobbyists can dilute it further? 

GROSS:  We saw what that health care summit that Obama had and the

Republicans and the Democrats showed up.  There was a lot of Kabuki Theater

going on there, not particularly constructive.  I think one of the strange

things about this process is that the longer it has gone on, the more time

we have for banks to sort of pay bonuses again and do the sorts of things

they do, and Goldman Sachs running into trouble—the longer this process

has gone on, the tougher it has become on Wall Street.  So usually sort of

drawing it out gives lobbyists more time to get their interests in there. 

I think, in this case, they would have gotten the better deal if they had

cut something three months or six months ago. 

OLBERMANN:  And when it gets through conference, gets signed, doesn‘t

the debate actually really begin just then?  Won‘t this be re-enacted

throughout the fall political campaign? 

GROSS:  Clearly, I think if you see the fall campaign setting up, it‘s

going to be about the economy.  It‘s going to be about health care, where

again you have this—the government is taking over versus the government

being tough on the insurers.  And there‘s a similar sort of rhetorical

troupe going on here, where the Republicans are saying, here they are

taking over a big portion of the economy, and Democrats saying, no, we‘re

being tough on these people that nobody likes. 

OLBERMANN:  Dan Gross of “Newsweek,” many thanks.  Have a good


GROSS:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Three Thurber fables tonight, including the story of trust

misplaced, “the Owl Who Was God.”  Speaking of which, the man who has four

times this week compared the president to Nazis, and what he had said

previously decrying those who compared presidents to Nazis. 

And on “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” at the top of the hour, the next front

in the immigration wars; will Arizona now try to deny citizenship to

children born in the U.S.?


OLBERMANN:  Three James Thurber fables, including the famed, “The Owl

Who Was God,” next.  But first, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

In third place, John Stossel of Fixed News—in the head for a long

time—contributing to the assessment by saying, quote, “I‘m in total

agreement with Rand Paul.  And I would go further than he was willing to

go, as he just issued the statement, and say it‘s time now to repeal that

part of the law.” 

This is where the Fox anchor interjected, what?  “Because private

businesses ought to get to discriminate.  And I won‘t ever go to a place

that is racist.  And I will tell everybody else not to.  And I will speak

against them.  But it should be their right to be racist.” 

Got Dr. Paul on the line for you, John.  He‘d like to express his

thanks for setting him back on fire right after he‘d started to tamp

himself down. 

Runner up, Newt Gingrich, check out the evolutions of his comparisons

of the president to Nazi Germany.  A, in his new book, he wrote, quote,

“the secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as

Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” 

B, last Sunday he was asked if that was wildly over the top.  He

answered, “no, just listen to President Obama‘s language.  He gets to

decide who earns how much.” 

See?  Last night he was asked by Greta Van Susteren, “go a little far

on that one?”  “No,” he answered, “because I‘m not talking about moral

equivalence of the people.  I‘m talking about the end result.  I argue in

this book—and I think it‘s a pretty reasoned and compelling argument—

that the fact is the values of a secular socialist movement are

antithetical.  And you hear from President Obama all the time.” 

D, this morning, asked about how he compared Obama to Mao and to

Hitler, “no,” he said,, “I didn‘t do that.  What I said was that the threat

to American civilization posed by the secular socialist machine is fully as

grave as the threat of totalitarian systems in the past.” 

But E, the Gingrich quote of quotes on this topic?  In 2005, he was

asked by Sean Hannity about alleged statements by Democrats, quote,

“comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler.”  And Gingrich, who has compared

Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler four times this week, said of all the supposed

Nazi/Hitler comparisons by Democrats, quote, “maybe they‘re becoming the

unhinged party.” 

Better check your own hinges, Newt. 

But our winner, the chicken lady, who became the liar lady, who is now

the double liar lady, Sue Lowden, Republican wannabe for the Senate from

Nevada.  Asked about her campaign bus, which is an RV worth about 100,000

dollars, she said, quote, “let‘s talk about my RV.  It was donated.  I‘m

really fortunate.  Anyone can have an RV if they had a supporter who wanted

to donate.” 

That‘s when it was pointed that the campaign donation limit for a

Senate seat is like five grand.  She then said she misspoke.  It wasn‘t

donated.  It‘s a privately leased vehicle.  Unfortunately, her name is on

the title, which legally can‘t be if she‘s leasing it.  Meaning Ms. Lowden

either lied about it being a donation or it‘s an illegal campaign donation,

or she bartered for it by paying an RV dealer 12,500 chickens. 

Sue “it‘s donated—it‘s mine—no, it‘s not, it‘s leased”—

Lowden, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  Again we close with some of the best humorist writing of

the 20th century, Fridays with Thurber, James Thurber, author, illustrator,

essayist, reporter.  This started, if you don‘t know, when I would read him

to my late father in the hospital.  Dad said you would enjoy this.  And by

all indications, he was right, as usual. 

This week, three gems from Thurber‘s “Fables For Our Time” and “Famous

Poems Illustrated,” published first in 1940.  And I‘m again reading from

the Library of America “Thurber, Writings and Drawings,” just reprinted

because you asked for it. 

First, “The Mouse Who Went to the Country,” by James Thurber. 

Once upon a Sunday, there was a city mouse who went to visit a country

mouse.  He hid away on a train that the country mouse had told him to take,

only to find out that on Sundays it did not stop at Beddington.  Hence, the

city mouse could not get off at Beddington and catch a bus for Cybridge

(ph) Junction, where he was to be met by the country mouse. 

The city mouse, in fact, was carried on to Middleburg, where he waited

three hours for a train to take him back.  When he got back to Beddington,

he found that the last bus for Cybridge Junction had just left.  So he ran

and he ran and he ran and he finally caught the bus and crept aboard, only

to find that it was not the bus for Cybridge Junction at all, but was going

in the opposite direction, through Pells Hollow and Grum, to a place called


When the bus finally stopped, the city mouse got out into a heavy rain

and found that there were no more buses that night going anywhere.  To hell

with it, said the city mouse.  He walked back to the city. 

The moral?  Stay where you are.  You‘re sitting pretty.” 

“The Mouse Who Went to the Country.”

And now, “The Moth and the Star,” by James Thurber. 

“A young and impressionable moth once set his heart on a certain star. 

He told his mother about this, and she counseled him to set his heart on a

bridge lamp instead.  “Stars aren‘t the thing to hang around,” she said. 

“Lamps are the things to hang around.” 

“You get somewhere that way,” said the moth‘s father.  “You don‘t get

anywhere chasing stars.” 

But the moth would not heed the words of either parent.  Every evening

at dusk, when the star came out, he would start flying toward it.  Every

mourning at dawn, he would crawl back home, worn out with his vane


One day his father said to him, “you haven‘t burned a wing in months,

boy.  Looks to me as if you‘re never going to.  All your brothers have been

badly burned, flying around street lamps.  And all your sisters have been

terribly singed flying around house lamps.  Come on now, get out of here

and get yourself scorched.  A big strapping moth like you without a mark on


The moth left his father‘s house.  But he would not fly around street

lamps and he would not fly around house lamps.  He went right on trying to

reach the star which was four and one third light years, or 25 trillion

miles, away.  The moth thought it was just caught in the top branches of

the elm. 

He never did reach the star, but he went right on trying night after

night.  And when he was a very, very old moth, he began to think that he

really had reached the star and he went around saying so.  This gave him a

deep and lasting pleasure, and he lived to a great old age.  His parents

and his brothers and sisters had all been burned to death when they were

quite young. 

Moral?  Who flies afar from the sphere of our sorrow is here today and

here tomorrow.” 

“The Moth and the Star.”

And lastly tonight, and best tonight, “The Owl Who Was God,” by James


“Once upon a starless midnight, there was an owl who sat on the branch

of an oak tree.  Two ground moles tried to slip quietly by unnoticed. 

“You,” said the owl.  “Who,” they quivered in fear and astonishment, for

they could not believe it was possible for anyone to see them in that

darkness.  “You two,” said the owl. 

The moles hurried away and told the other creatures of the field and

forest that the owl was greatest and wisest of all animals, because he

could see in the dark and because he could answer any question.  “I‘ll see

about that,” said a secretary bird, and he called on the owl when it was,

again, very dark. 

“How many claws am I holding up,” said the secretary bird.  “Two,”

said the owl.  And that was right.  “Can you give me another expression for

that is to say or namely,” asked the secretary bird.  “To wit,” said the


“Why does a lover call on his love,” asked the secretary bird.  “To

woo,” said the owl. 

The secretary bird hastened back to the other creatures and reported

that the owls was, indeed, the greatest and wisest in the world, because he

could see in the dark and because he could answer any question. 

“Can he see in the daytime too,” asked a red fox.  “Yes,” echoed a

door mouse and a french poodle.  “Can he see in the daytime, too?” 

All the other creatures laughed loudly at this silly question, and

they set upon the red fox and his friends and drove them out of the region. 

Then they sent a messenger to the owl and asked him to be their leader. 

When the owl appeared among the animals, it was high noon and the sun

was shining brightly.  He walked very slowly, which gave him an appearance

of great dignity, and he peered about him with large staring eyes, which

gave him an air of tremendous importance. 

“He‘s god,” screamed a Plymouth rock hen.  The others took up the cry. 

“He‘s God.” 

So they followed him wherever he went.  When he began to bump into

things, they began to bump into things too.  Finally, he came to a concrete

highway and he started up the middle of it.  All the other creatures

followed him. 

Presently, a hawk, who was acting as an outrider, observed a truck

coming toward them at 50 miles an hour.  And he reported to the secretary

bird, and the secretary bird reported to the owl. 

“There‘s danger ahead,” said the secretary bird.  “To wit,” said the


The secretary bird told him, “aren‘t you afraid,” he asked.  “Who,”

said the owl calmly, for he could not see the truck. 

“He‘s God,” cried all the creatures again.  And they were still

crying, “he‘s God  when the truck hit them and ran them down.  Some of the

animals were merely injured, but most of them, including the owl, were


Moral?  You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.”

“The Owl Who Was God.”

And that is COUNTDOWN, portions written by James Thurber.  And now to

discuss Arizona‘s expanding fight against the illegal immigrants and now

their kids, ladies in gentlemen, in for Rachel Maddow, here is Chris Hayes. 

Good evening, Chris. 




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